When I was around 18-20 years old, I received the two best pieces of dating advice I’ve ever heard; when the topic comes up and I am asked my opinion, I have shared this advice and have noticed that those I share it with are moved to genuine thoughtfulness and reflection so I thought I’d share those little treasures here. They are simple and insightful.
- The person you end up spending your life with should make you a better person, ie bring out the best in you. At first glance this can seem like obvious advice, but there are people in your life that have the ability to make you feel amazing and yet they can distract you off the path toward your Best Self. As I have matured, I have made a point to honestly and sincerely love and accept people exactly where they’re at, that includes Myself, so this is not about being unhappy with who I AM (or who someone else is), it’s about taking steps that move me toward the best version of Myself. Someone who helps you become your Best Self tells you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear, and holds you accountable to standards of your Best Self while loving you as you are. What this actually looks like is different for everybody. Which brings me to the second piece of advice:
- Know what you can live with and what you can’t. Before you even get into a relationship, you need to know a few things about Yourself. You need to know your Must Haves – anyone you want a relationship with must have these qualities that you highly value. Do not imagine that they will develop these qualities over time by spending time with you, or worse, by nagging them to change; your I Can Deal With Thats – these are qualities, (or habits etc) that a person does or doesn’t have and you know you’ll be ok if you have deal with it, or the absence of it, for the rest of your life; , and your No Gos – these are things that you know you don’t ever want to deal with, qualities that you really can’t stand. Knowing where you stand on all these types of qualities is important for a couple reasons: 1) you have to assume that this person will always possess these qualities and that they will never change no matter how much you love them or how much they love you; 2) the qualities that you value and/or can’t live with will guide you on your path to your Best Self. If the qualities possessed by the person you are considering a relationship with line up nicely with your Must Haves, I Can Deal With Thats and your No Gos, this person will help you stay the course on the path to your Best Self by virtue of just being his/herself. And, you won’t waste your time and efforts trying to change someone else or adapting your Self to conform to something you knew you didn’t want to live with in the first place.
These two pieces of advice were given to me in regards to choosing a marriage partner, but over the years I have come to apply these measures to all the relationships in my life. I think about them as I choose my friends, acquaintances and business associates and it has served me very well. I love the life I have built and am excited about where it continues to lead. And, whether they do or not, I have to assume that people are applying the same measure when deciding to include me in their lives. I ask Myself, “is the way I’m speaking/behaving/living my life what I would value in a friend or partner?”